Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Guitar Legend the late Mary Kaye, R.I.P.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mary Kaye, a Hawaiian guitarist and singer who headed the Mary Kaye Trio and kicked off Las Vegas' 24-hour lounge scene, died February 17th of respiratory and heart failure, her nephew said. She was 83.

Kaye, born Mary Kaaihue, was the daughter of Johnny " 'Ukulele" Kaaihue, and an accomplished guitarist.

"She was the first person to ever have a guitar named after her, which is a Fender Mary Kaye Stratocaster," said her nephew, John Kaye, the administrator of Mary Kaye Trio Enterprises.

Kaye and her trio, comprised of older brother Norman Kaye and Frank Ross, began playing deep into the night at Las Vegas' Frontier casino-hotel in the 1950s before such performances were hip, John Kaye said.

"They started the 24-hour gaming and entertainment venues," he said. "Within a matter of 72 hours, everywhere in town built a lounge. It became a mainstay of the Las Vegas night scene."

Norman Kaye, 84, is the only surviving member of the trio, said John Kaye, his son. Ross died in California in 1995.

The group recorded 13 albums, 21 singles, made 22 appearances on television and played on four movie soundtracks, John Kaye said. The albums included "Night Life" (1966), "Our Hawaii" (1962), and "A Night in Las Vegas" (1952).

Funeral will be held at Palm Mortuary Northwest Sat. 24th at 6701 N. Jones past Ann Rd. in Las Vegas, NV at 11am to 1pm viewing. In lieu of flowers, if you could, please help by making donations at any Palm Mortuary Northwest in Las Vegas in Mary Kaye's name to assist in her funeral expenses or call her daughter Donna at 702-561-3550. Your donations will be greatly appreciated.


As I wrote about in the previous post, Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses are carrying on his Dad's Vegas legacy every Wed and Thurs at Prince's 3121 Club at the Rio. Again, Jerry Lopez is on guitar, along with Emerald Yancey (vocals), Cocho (keys), Jeff Zinn (bass), Joel Richman (drums), Mike Gonzales (trumpet), and Steve Meyer (trombone), Tommy Alvarado reeds/Music director.

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